Midwest journalist Chris Clayton examines the conflict in rural America over climate change, farming and the increasing pressures on food production. Clayton's reporting highlights the critical nature of agriculture in the country's struggle over finding direction in mitigating greenhouses gases and adapting to a more volatile climate. The Elephant in the Cornfield explains rural perceptions of climate change, resistance to the science and the outright push to fight attempts to deal with greenhouse-gas emissions.
Clayton looks at the pitched lobbying battle over failed climate legislation in 2009 and 2010 and how cap-and-trade became an almost toxic concept for farmers -- the same people who are increasingly threatened by more extreme weather, yet represent one of the few industries able to pull carbon dioxide from the air and sink it into the soil.
The Elephant in the Cornfield also takes the complex science of climate change and breaks it down by detailing research going back 50 years on greenhouse gases.
While tackling a hefty subject, Clayton puts his journalism background to work with pragmatic and comprehensive writing. This book essentially serves as Clayton's journal as an agricultural reporter covering political battles inside the Beltway. At the same time, he puts a face on the farmers, scientists, activists and corporate America in trying to develop a more sustainable food system.
Climate change gives rural Americans a chance to save the world, but many refuse to see potential. The Elephant in the Cornfield makes the case that America’s cornfields hold some solutions to dealing with a hotter planet. Yet, political infighting and the embrace of climate denial keep farmers divided. In the process, the festering debates over science and political solutions risk the country's ability to help feed a growing world and protect the environment.
Clayton has been writing and editing for DTN/The Progressive Farmer since 2005 after working more than seven years as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald. He has recognized as Writer of the Year from the American Agricultural Editors Association and won Story of the Year multiple times from the organization. Clayton also has won the Glenn Cunningham Agricultural Journalist of the Year Award from the North American Agricultural Journalists and served as the group's president in 2012-13. The National Farmers Union and American Coalition for Ethanol also each have named him Communicator of the Year.
Clayton graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1993 with a degree in journalism. He has worked for news organizations in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Nebraska. Clayton lives in Glenwood, Iowa, with his wife and children.